Writing The Do-It-Yourself Letter of Recommendation

Thanks to Seth Godin for his recent post entitled “The Opposite of Anxiety.”

He explores the idea of imagining on paper.  Can this idea be extended one step beyond?

Specifically, too many of you have sweated over getting letters of recommendation. Noted people claim they’ll be a reference. You ask for a letter.

You wait and wait and wait.

Do they have amnesia? Or, did they lie, because they really hate you?

I’d guess the answer is that they are busy and intimidated. Unless they’re a college professor who churns out letters of support each week, your assignment can be scary.

They make think their wishy-washy writing might cheat you out of your college admission, the new job or other win you’re seeking.

E-mail them a rough draft. Yes, write something for them.

It’s up to that person how much, if any, of your letter they use. The main benefit here is showing the requested letter-writer that the job isn’t impossible. You’re hinting at the points you hope they’d make.

Make it clear that you’re only suggesting one possible version. You’d welcome anything written in their own hand. If they substitute a sonnet about your many talents, no matter. They got it done, with your prompting.

Besides, offering a draft of your hoped-for letter of reference shows your creativity and determination. That extra act should spark a higher level of praise from your reference.

Of course, when someone proclaims, “use me as a reference!” you should ask then if that extends to writing a letter, too. When they leap under a desk or seek an open window, you know that you may need alternate supporters.


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